09 May Gilbert budget: How the town will spend your money
The Gilbert Town Council has approved initial plans for a second parking garage for its downtown Heritage District, a trendy dining spot. Wochit
Gilbert is on its way to increasing its recreation space, police presence and downtown parking.
The town’s proposed $965 million budget for next fiscal year, which begins July 1, focuses on new amenities in the town’s high-growth southern section, while maintaining aging infrastructure in older areas.
At about 247,000 people, Gilbert is the largest town in America. And in another 13 years, officials expect the town to be fully built out with a population of more than 300,000.
Gilbert officials plan to amp up its police and fire departments and add new features — like a 272-acre park — to accommodate the impending population surge.
There are no tax increases proposed in next year’s budget. The Town Council will vote on the budget June 15.
Here’s a look at some of the departments with the most significant budget increases, and what upgrades residents can expect.
Police Department: $5.7 million increase
- One commander.
- One background investigator.
- Eight patrol officers.
- Two domestic violence officers.
- Two detectives.
- Two records clerks.
- One part-time administrative assistant.
Gilbert Budget and Management Director Kelly Pfost said the Police Department’s call volume continues to rise, and the additional personnel will help maintain speedy response times to emergency situations.
Fire Department: $3.8 million increase
- New fire station.
- Three captains.
- Three fire engineers.
- One data compliance analyst.
The town plans to build its ninth and final fire station at the southeast corner of Ocotillo Road and Wilson Way, a high-growth area near several new commercial and residential developments.
The fire station will be paid for entirely with fees paid by developers in Gilbert.
“Growth pays for growth,” Pfost said.
The new fire personnel will staff the new station.
Parks and recreation: $2 million increase
- Gilbert Regional Park (Phase 1 design and construction).
- Rittenhouse Park (Phase 1 design and construction).
The first phase of the Gilbert Regional Park — a 272-acre site south of Queen Creek Road and west of Higley Road — could include features like sports courts, playgrounds, a lake and a splash pad. The design is expected to take a year and construction could begin as early as next summer.
The Rittenhouse Park, located north of Pecos Road and west of Power Road, will include six sports fields in its first phase. Other potential amenities include a lake, trails and playgrounds.
The town will also fund both park projects with developer fees, meaning the parks will be constructed at no cost to existing residents.
Heritage District parking upgrade
- Parking garage: $18 million.
The town plans to add another, larger parking garage in its booming downtown dining district and could begin construction on the structure and other road improvements as early as March.
Pfost the town intends to cash-finance the project.
“(The Heritage District) is such an icon for Gilbert and we are running out of parking,” Pfost said.